The key to having powerful upper body strength, in men, starts with a chiseled chest. Achieving a powerful looking chest can actually be pretty easy and rewarding if you remain committed and diligent to the process.
Below are the top five chest exercises for men from some of the leading bodybuilders and fitness websites in the business.
Weighted Push Up
These help with starting any exercise routine where you will be working on your chest. “Weighted pushups can help you warm up your muscles and prepare them for more advanced exercises to further help achieve a shredded chest,” says Alex Frickey, a veteran bodybuilder from Manteca, California.
According to menshealth.com, “The Pushup That Builds Maximum Muscle,” they write: “There are lots of ways to make the classic pushup more difficult. You can elevate your feet, put your hands closer together, lift one leg, or place your hands on an unstable surface. But if you really want to hammer your chest, core, and arms, don’t be afraid to add some weight. Adding load recruits more muscle fibers and increases the intensity of the movement, making each repetition harder,” says David Jack, owner of ActivPrayer in Phoenix, Arizona, and creator of Men’s health 60-day transformation. “You won’t be able to bang out as many reps as you could sans load, but each rep will challenge your strength and endurance in a new way. Begin with a weight plate, sandbag, or weight vest that equals 10 percent of your body weight. As you progress, continue to add weight in increments of 5 to 10 percent. Since additional weight can exacerbate bad form, make sure you can do 30 perfect reps of the body-weight version before you start.” The site also includes a video demonstrating the correct form. (1.)
Performancepotential.com tells us that among of the benefits from the weighted bench press include the fact that they tend to be safer. They also write: “weight is limited by how much you can support by your anterior outer core (AOC, we will call it). If your AOC can’t support the weight then you won’t be able to do as much weight on the exercise. This ensures that you are building well rounded strength overall. It’s a bit of a self-limiting exercise.” (2.) Keep in mind, one downfall from the weighted push up is that you may require the assistance of a partner to load your back for optimum results, or at the advice of Alex Frickey, “you can always load a backpack full of weights, books, sandbags or whatever weighted object you feel comfortable with, throw it on your back and start pushing.”
Dumbbell Squeeze Press
“Squeezing the weights together during a chest press shifts all the stress onto your pectorals. This simple tweak engages them throughout the entire range of motion, which is a key factor in maximizing muscle growth. Lie on a bench holding a pair of dumbbells with your arms straight above your chest, palms facing together. Let the weights touch and squeeze them together as hard as possible. Maintain this squeeze the entire time, making sure the dumbbells stay in contact with each other. Lower the weights to the sides of your chest, and then push them back up to the starting position,” says menshealth.com in their article, “The 15 Best Chest Exercises for Men.” (3)
When it comes to some of the benefits from the dumbbell squeeze press, it can help develop the pectoral muscles, as the pectoral muscles are engaged in this exercise. However, the dumbbell bench press is also a full body workout and activates more muscles than the exercise gets credit for. The dumbbell squeeze press is ideal for creating upper body strength and is another entry exercise to your chest routine. These will help to further establish a nice warm chest ready to withhold the next few exercises that have made our list.
One of the most powerful and chest changing exercises you can perform to reap the rewards of a strong and visually appealing chest, is and will always be, the bench press. According to kingofthegym.com, in their article, “5 Bench Press Benefits that Reinforce Why Benching is Awesome,” bench pressing can “maximise the overload to the chest muscles.” This means that the bench press is notorious for targeting chest muscles with heavy loads, allowing you to target those pectoral muscles with some weight and force. Further according to the article, another added benefit from the bench press is “the building of muscle mass to the upper body.” They further write, “The bench press is a fantastic exercise for increasing muscle growth and adding some real mass to your frame. When used with a quality weight lifting routine and bodybuilding diet, the bench press is one of the most effective upper body muscle mass builders out there.” Number 3 on their list of top five benefits from bench pressing, they’ve listed: “Increase Push Strength. The bench press does work when it comes to making you stronger on push exercises. This is because it hits the chest, shoulders and triceps hard. These muscles are then made stronger for other push exercises like the barbell overhead press or dips.” The site also concludes that the final two benefits from the bench press: simply bragging rights and the pec dance. A common talk among the gym is typically “who can bench press more,” typically the truth is slightly bent and exaggerated but with “proper training and technique, you’ll eventually have a bench press that’s truth worth bragging about.” (4)
When it comes to the cable fly, there are also some pretty rewarding benefits included. Menshealth.com tells us that “When it comes to working their pecs, most guys just press. Adding the fly to your routine gives your pecs and front deltoids a new stimulus.”
“I like using cables for this because they provide constant tension throughout the entire movement,” says Schoenfeld.” (3)
Fitnessuncovered.com further touches on the benefits of the cable fly by telling us that, “If your gym has twin cable stations, the standing cable fly is a great option for isolating the chest. Through transverse flexion of the shoulder, the two muscle heads of the chest are primarily targeted, with assistance from the front (anterior) deltoid head (i.e. the front of the shoulder). If performed correctly, the standing cable fly has a similar action to the lying dumbbell fly, yet has the benefit of continuous tension and resistance throughout the exercise. To explain further; the dumbbell fly is most effective in the lower segment of the arc, as the athlete is overcoming gravity. As the dumbbells are brought up higher through the arc much of the gravitational resistance is lost down through the arms, acting as secondary stabilizers, not the chest.” (6)
When it comes to building chest strength and achieving a chiseled chest, chest dips are another avenue you can take to really maximize the perfect chest. Kingofthegym.com tells us that the top five benefits of performing and properly executing chest dips include:
1. Chest dips are isolated. Strictly designed for working the chest, chest dips are a closed kinetic chain, meaning that they “simultaneously work opposing muscle groups while lifting and lowering.”
2. With chest dips, one is able to add unlimited weight to their routine. Once your body outgrows the challenging dip alone, you can add some weight and force to your exercise for maximum results.
3. Chest dips allow you to build your upper body mass. As you add more weight and workload to your muscles, you will be sure to build more muscle mass.
4. Chest dips are superior to push-ups and lastly,
5. Chest dips allow you to improve your lockout strengths. (5.)